Monday, April 1, 2024

Groundbreaking announcement: NPS reaches agreement with Gov. Youngkin to move Stumpy to Alexandria

Today, April 1, 2024 Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, in a surprise early morning announcement, disclosed that he had brokered a deal with the National Park Service (NPS) to acquire and transplant the iconic little cherry tree known as "Stumpy."

In mid-March of this year, NPS unveiled plans to remove 159 cherry trees -- including Stumpy -- from the portion of the Tidal Basin where the sea wall needs to be rebuilt to control flooding. All the impacted trees were slated to be mulched, but NPS arborists had promised the public to take cuttings from Stumpy to be used to propagate multiple Stumpy clones.

Governor Youngkin's last-minute intervention to save Stumpy was a stunner. From the governor's announcement:

"Virginia will do for Stumpy what the federal government and DC could not seem to accomplish. We will give Stumpy a new and better home in a state that values life and freedom."

The governor's plan included a proposed site for the tree's replanting -- a portion of the site in the Potomac Yard section of Alexandria formerly chosen to be the site of the Monumental Arena, before the collapse of the governor's plan for Virginia to acquire the Washington Capitals hockey team and the Wizards basketball team.

According to the governor's message: "The DC Tidal Basin is no longer adequate for the needs of all the tourists who come from all over America to enjoy Stumpy in expectation of safety and convenience. There's hardly any parking, virtually no services. The entire road system around the Tidal Basin is bumper-to-bumper at peak season. I am proud to say that Virginia will lead the way out of this mess."

The governor's plan calls for Stumpy to become the centerpiece of a new broad plaza, with high-rise parking garages on both the north and south ends. The project is to be seeded with state tax dollars initially, with a contract going to the best bid for construction and management of  the parking garages. Based on an anticipated parking fee of $30/hour, Stumpy Plaza is projected to produce earnings to turn the development into a profitable venture for both the developer and the state of Virginia, in record time.

Economic stimulus packages for shops and other attractions on all sides of Stumpy Plaza will make the entire area into a booming and attractive business district, according to the plan.

There are, however, some significant logistical and technological problems that must be solved before the plan can be put into effect. The first big hurdle is to find a way to keep the aged, hollowed-out cherry tree from dying a natural death at the end of a long life. The transplant project is dependent on finding a way to preserve Stumpy in its present form.

A new and experimental preservation process is the key. Once the bloom is over, Stumpy will be moved, roots and all, to a new, state-of-the-art plant biology lab in Virginia's "Research Triangle." There, all the leaves will be removed, and the trunk and all the branches will be completely coated with a polymer preservative, which will "freeze" the entire tree into a permanent state of stasis. Samples of blossoms taken from the tree when it was in full bloom will then be processed by an AI program, and 3D models of the blossoms will be generated. From these models a 3D printer will turn out thousands of blossoms so lifelike, they will be completely indistinguishable from the natural samples on which they are based.

The computer-printed 3D blossoms will then be reattached by hand to the polymer-protected branches, resulting in a regenerated Stumpy in full and magnificent bloom -- and engineered to keep it looking that way in every season of the year, in perpetuity.

A Virginia state contract to carry out the permanent preservation of Stumpy has already been awarded to a Research Triangle bio-engineering startup called ArborTech, whose 24-year-old CEO, Charles ("Chip”) Greenbaum-Ling could not be reached for comment. 

Governor Youngkin's statement concluded with this reflection: "We may not have come away with the sports teams we hoped to bring to our state, but we will end up with something even more iconic – an enduring symbol of the can-do spirit that seems to have gone out of style in bureaucratic Washington today. We may not have Monumental, but we will have Stumpy, a Monument that we all have come to love -- and as we all know, Virginia is for lovers!"

The National Park Service did not make a spokesperson available for an interview but issued its own statement, which you can read at this link:

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